Sunday, January 3, 2010

Q&A: Derby girl 3-way, NWA style!

I had a chance to meet these three wonderful derby girls who skate for the NWA's Backwoods Betties team, at the afterparty for their bout with Dallas' ACderby called Clash of the titans. All three looked to be in great physical shape and are definately representative of how and why women's rollerderby is being redefined and the image of rollerderby remade to reflect the mindset and attributes of the modern American woman and derby girl. This interview was so much fun, I do believe there will be more derby girl 3-ways to come!

Adrienna Young aka "bloody bathory" ("BB")photos 1-3
Iris Shepard aka "Wasabi" photos 7 & 8
Meleah McDade-Loya aka "Scarlet Knuckles" ("SK")photos 4-6

Q: what made you want to get into roller derby, and how did you end up getting involved?

BB: I actually heard about it from a guy who I had talked to online about some poetry event (he is now my boyfriend and a rollerboy) he had gotten a flyer from a girl who was trying to start one up here, I went to the very first league meeting and was immediately interested. At first I thought there was no way that I'd be able to do it- becuase I had two kids and am a full time college student, but then I realized that probably half the girls there had kids as well, it was a great confidence booster! I had just moved into the area and I didn't really know anyone, after the meeting it was an instant group of like-minded friends that had just come out of nowhere. It was a really great feeling.

Wasabi: I had heard about our local roller derby league, but I couldn't skate and I didn't think I was the "type" until I meant Bloody Bathory in an English literature class at the University of Arkansas. She convinced me to attend new girl practice and helped me learn about gear, what type of skates to buy, etc. I passed my minimum skills test in March of this year.

SK: Over a period of about two years I met several different roller girls and they were all pretty interesting. I kept hearing about it around town and it sounded like fun. Then one day in May of 2008 my family and I were hanging out at Springfest; a yearly festival here in town, and I approached the NWARG booth to check into it. A roller girl who recognized me from the preschool our boys had been attending that year stepped up to give me a schedule and that turned out to be one of my favs, Apache Rose. She informed me there was a bout that very night, so I went to check it out. I fell in love with it right away. The voice in my head said, "I MUST try this". I started coming to 'Fresh Meat' practice two weeks later.

Q: ya'll had professional, great looking uniforms. did you have a say in them? who decided on those uniforms?

BB: Yes, we had a say in them- we actually had two of our girls model sample uniforms for us so we could pick from the different styles. Really, the whole league got to decide if we wanted them or not.

Wasabi: Thanks. I didn't help decide what types of uniforms to get. I think it was a team decision, but it was made before I got on league.

SK: I think the decision to go with these custom uniforms might have already been made before I joined the league, but I do know that our fabulous PR girl, Sin, invested a ton of her own time and effort into getting the entire league outfitted.

Q: where did you get your derby names? who came up with them, and what do they mean?

BB: I wanted something historical and dark, not especially gothic dark- but unexpected role type. I decided to take my name after Countess Elizabeth Bathory who was the most significant serial killer to ever exist; she killed at least 600 women, tortured them, and was rumored to have bathed in their blood. She was the true original dracula that Bram Stoker based his novel upon, he only used the image of her crazy (and real) relative instead -Vlad the Impaler-but it was Elizabeth who was the true evil. Look her up, she's pretty interesting.

Wasabi: We all choose our own derby names. When a skater passes her MST's she's encouraged to think of a name she likes and then check on the site twoevils to make sure the name's not taken. I selected WASABI because I hope to overpower opposing skaters just like the burning sensation of eating wasabi.

SK: We each come up with our own name, and they mean something different to each of us, however, the names must be unique. No two roller girls may have the same name, and each name must be approved by the folks at My name came about because I was mostly raised in Charleston, South Carolina, hence the 'Scarlet'. The 'Knuckles' portion came about because I like brass knuckles, and as Bloody put it when I first revealed my name choice to her, "It sounds vintage-y"...which I like!

Q: how many hours/days a week do ya'll practice? whats your training routine like?

BB: We usually train anywhere from five to seven hours a week on the track, but lots of us ladies get together and skate the bike trails, or go to open skates in the evenings-so the hours after serious training can tend to add up.

Wasabi: We have league practice on Sundays from 7:30-10 when both of our teams skate together. The Backwoods Betties have a team practice on Wednesdays from 8-10. We are also encourages to attend new girl practice on Sundays from 6-7:30 to help support our newest skaters. We spend most of our practice working on our skating technique. This last week we've been focusing on making our crossovers faster and more powerful. When we have games approaching, we'll spend the last hour of practice scrimmaging. After skating, we gear down and do strength-building land drills.

SK: We spend anywhere from 4 1/2 to 8 hours a week at practice. Practice consists of a combination of endurance, drills and scrimmaging.

Q: how many travel bouts do you have? does it get tedious going on the road? what is that like?

BB: We usually have 3-4 travel bouts per team each season, maybe one or two more if we can. Our roadtrips are never boring! There is always some odd adventure occuring- like getting sidetracked for five hours, or getting led by GPS to a creepy trailer in the middle of nowhere and getting stuck in the mud there trying to turn around... There is always something!

Wasabi: Again, this is my first season skating with NWARG. The Backwoods Betties had three travel bouts this season and three home bouts. Traveling to Dallas was my first travel bout. It was definitely a learning experience. We got lost, stuck in the mud on a back road in Oklahoma...

SK: I don't think going on the road is tedious..I like it a lot! It kind of depends on who's car you are riding in though..we usually caravan, and each car has it's own 'kind' of fun. For instance, the car I was in for the Dallas trip wanted to stop for a go cart race near the rink. We were sad when they told us the go carts were closed because it had just rained. Seriously!?!? That would make it all the more fun!!

Q: do you have any wacky stories from travelling?

BB: I would tell you the "getting the car stuck in the middle of creepy trailor area story" but someone would probably shoot me, lol.

Wasabi: Continuing from the previous question: On the way to Dallas, I was driving and using a GPS for the first time (I had been living without a car for the past two years to see what a carfree lifestyle was like!) The GPS told us to leave the main highway and turn onto Boggy Depot Road (on ominous name since there had been so much rain the last few weeks) The GPS then instructed us to turn onto a dirt road, promising that the highway was just half a mile ahead. The road got muddier and muddier. When we finally decided the GPS was wrong and tried to back out, we got stuck in the mud. We had to call the other van and get towed out of the mud. Everyone still laughs about how we got stuck in the mud on the way to Dallas!

SK: hahaha hahaha aaaaaaaaaahahahaha.....funny you should ask. I can't wait to see what Wasabi and Bloody write for this. They were main characters in this story. I'm just going to let them tell it.

Q: do any of you have special moves on the hardwood you're really great at?

BB: We've been practicing edging alot, and I've been using it to cut girls off in a forward/side slicing motion that is really effective for a girl my size- it does a good take-out!

Wasabi: I really enjoy positional blocking. I try to always stay with a teammate and work together to keep the opposing jammer from pushing through. I love teamwork!

SK: I don't have any special trick skating moves that I'm aware of, but there are some who have complained about my boney hips. I tend to try and dig my hip bone into my opposer when I'm deflecting their hit.

Q: which of you is the best pivot? jammer? why or why not?

BB: I think on our team we have practiced so much as being "multi-taskers" on the track that this is really hard to say, so I'l just answer with an 'all our jammers and pivots are equally awesome' on the Betties!

SK: I like Bloody for Jammer because she has this little move that I like...when she gets Lead Jammer, she blows a kiss to the home crowd. And, I think Wasabi is gonna pop off as a Pivot, so you betta' WATCH OUT.

Q: do any of you have male or female groupies that follow you or send you emails and such?

BB: We have had our share of those who fall in love with our awesomness...I mean, who wouldn't?

SK: No, but another one of my favs, Tough Muffin, recently moved to NY and she said she was going to keep up with me...does it count if I'm following her too?

Q: how do you juggle derby with jobs/kids/life?

BB: I use the stress of my life/kids to juggle derby for me, I don't know what I'd do without my stress killer-it's so nice to get that release, I make the time.

Wasabi: I'm a single mother with two young children. I am in school getting my doctorate in English literature. I realized recently that I average about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, but derby really helps me stay sane-the physical exertion and companionship.

SK: It's tough sometimes, but derby is where all the stress that accumulates from the jobs/kids/life stuff gets purged. So, for all the injury that can be sustained in derby, it can also be very therapeutic!

Q: what sort of music/bands/artists do ya'll like?

BB: All kinds! Everything really, we've had rap by our girls, rockabilly, rock, everything. We are very diverse.

Wasabi: I love Outkast and MIA

SK: Oh boy...that's much space do I have? Some of my favorite artists include: Elizabeth McGrath, Camille Rose Garcia, Dave McKean, Edward Gorey and Rene Magritte. As for taste stretches far and wide, and depends a lot on my mood...Cibo Matto, Portishead, Nancy Sinatra, Edith Piaf, Thievery Corporation, Cocteau Twins, Pizzicato Five, Stereolab, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rosalia de Souza, Smokey and Mijo, Tom Waits, Nouvelle Vague, Django Reinhardt. Beck, Elliot Smith and of course Johnny Cash. These are just a few that come to mind as of late.

Q: what sort of injuries have ya'll suffered during derby? what's the worst?

BB: I've personally torn ligaments in both knees, we've had a broken collerbone, broken legs, broken ankles, dislocated shoulders, take your pick...

Wasabi: I'm nursing a hurt knee right now. I've only experiences minor injuries, and those have happened most skating outdoors!

SK: I've had a nasty rink rash that wouldn't stop weeping for over a week. However, my worst was when I sprained my ankle twice in a week. It still crackles a little.

Q: are any of you into other sports?

BB: nooo

Wasabi: I'm an avid bike rider. I also workout 4-5 times a week at the gym, doing weight training and cardio.

SK: Not so much. This is the first organized sport I've ever played.

Q: what sort of food/diet do ya'll use? anything special?

BB: Welll, I personally am a lifelong vegetarian...I don't know about the rest of the ladies. I do sometimes drink supplemental shakes and we always stress electrolytes during practice.

Wasabi: I eat mainly an organic vegetarian diet. I drink a protein powder shake after hard workouts and I find emergenC powder really helpful during practice and bouts.

SK: Nothing special..I just try to have a healthy balance of everything.

Q: what other sorts of hobbies or fun stuff do ya'll do?

BB: I love to write, poetry, stories, etc. Alot of us are big on hiking and camping.

Wasabi: I'm in a band called Hosta. I play the bass and sing.

SK: I'm a crafter. I love to sew and make all sorts of things. I also collect Blythe Dolls.

Q: would you consider yourself sexy? a sex symbol? a role model? why or why not?

BB: I think all rollergirls fall into all of the above categories, what better role model and sex symbol than a woman who uses her stregths, physical and mental, and doesn't let herself fall into the weak little girl syndrome. Men like women who kick ass, it shows they are not afraid to handle life, and I think younger girls need to see that Mommas can be just as tough as the big boys.

Wasabi: I see the potential derby has for empowering women to be competitive and agressive. More than anything derby's increased my self-confidence and fitness. Sure, derby girls are hot, but I think more than that, derby's about being a woman in a positive, strong way!

SK: I'm just a little too dorky to think of myself as a sex symbol or sexy, but I do think of myself as a role model since I have two kids.

Q: are you three going to be in my next roller derby video or what?
BB: YES!!!
Wasabi: I'd love to! Thanks for requesting this interview! Very though provoking questions!
SK: Sure!

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